Candle of the Month & Yankee Candle My Serenity Collection Review

IMAG1663Hi,

How are we almost at the end of February already? Where is this year going?! I need to slow down!
Thankfully, with the help of some relaxing fragranced candles, I am gaining a few moments of peace here and there.

I bought three of the four scents from the new Yankee Candle My Serenity Q1 collection about three weeks ago now. And I’ve only recently burned one of them. Like I said, this month feels as though it’s flying by.

I passed up on Moonlight, as it just seemed too woodsy for me. On occasion, I can sometimes enjoy fragrances like this, but if I have to sniff something a couple of times to decide whether I like it or not, then the answer is usually no. When something smells enjoyable, you know right away.

So, I have only burned Serenity thus far, and as it’s about the only thing I’ve burned all month, it is certainly my ‘Candle of the Month’, but smelling the other two as they are, I’m really enjoying those too, and can’t wait to burn them also.

IMAG1672Peony is a gorgeous, delicate floral. Calming and pretty, and very very floral – but in a nice way. Lemongrass & Ginger is clean and fresh and probably my favourite of the collection. I always love fresh smelling things and the ginger comes across in just the right way – a hint of spice, but still a zingy fresh scent rather than a warming cosy one.

I was actually unsure about My Serenity when I smelled it cold. I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it smells of. Warm, and soft and delicate. Fruity. Floral. And also sweetly creamy, but not in an overly gourmand way. It’s pear and orange, with tropical flowers and soft musk. I was worried the scent wouldn’t carry well, it seems so delicate. But how wrong I was.

IMAG1666 I purchased the votive / sampler sizes, and it can be nice to test fragrances out before commiting to larger jars, or if you’re like me, it’s nice to have something small enough to enjoy for a short time before you inevitably buy more!

IMAG1743I was really impressed though that the scent from a single votive was enough to fill the room, and even when not lit, I occasionally get a little pleasant whiff of it. There’s not a lot left at all now, so I’ll proabably burn the remainder and move on to one of the others, but I’m pretty impressed with the selection of Spring candles from Yankee, and already looking forward to what will come out next!

For now, with love,
Ellen

Does a Fireplace Really Make a Living Room?

Click image for link to Pinterest and original website link.

Hi,

If you swing your eyes back up to the title there, what’s your first response? No doubt, some will think that a fireplace is the focal point and heart of a living room. Others will think there’s no need, there’s a million(ish) more alternatives, and that they’re just plain unnecessary and/or unattractive.

I was in the first group. Our house currently has a fireplace. A chimney breast, a gas fire (albeit a slightly outdated one) and a rather ugly, definitely outdated fire surround. When we first started making plans for the living room, we discussed replacing the fire, the possibility (or not) of a log burner, or at least a log burner effect heater, the work and cost involved. We decided, or so I thought, to keep the fire and replace the fire surround. Build in some cupboards and shelves either side and boom! A focal point, that “centre” of the living room in our crazy large four quarters of one room lounge area.

And then at the weekend my partner decided it wasn’t worthwhile and that we’d be better off losing the fire, the whole chimney breast, and having a plain, in his words “versatile” blank wall.

Say what now?!

This wasn’t what I had in my mind. At first, I literally felt like there was no purpose to the whole room without that fireplace. Even if we don’t use the fire. Which seems fairly obvious now I think about. I do like the look, much prefer in fact, of a room with a grand, or even somewhat simple, fireplace. Sofas and a coffee table around it. The fire doesn’t have to be on to still give the room a cozy look. To me it made sense. I didn’t want to think about versatility. Sure, placing the four sections of our lounge life (Sofas, Dining Table, TV Area and Gym) into the four corners was limited by the fact that there was a fireplace in one quarter didn’t matter. To me, it said ‘that’s where your sofas or TV section go’. It made things more obvious and quicker and easier for me to imagine. Versatility wasn’t an issue – I wanted to come up with the best plan and stick to it. Not wonder if we’d get bored and want to move everything around in a couple of years times.

What’s more, all the inspiration I’d seen, involved cozy fireplaces. I’m not into modern, contemporary sleek city living. I like a home. A cozy, lived in, clean and bright still, but homlier look than those chic apartment get ups. I couldn’t imagine how a living room without a fireplace could look anything other than uber modern. Crazy, I know. But my dear fiance couldn’t show me either. We struggled to find images and inspiration without that central focal point, and I struggled even more with the fact that he struggles to understand the importance of the ‘focal point’. He’s a practical man.

As we also having central heating, we don’t use the fire, and therefore we don’t need the fireplace. Spending time and money on creating this was something he was skeptical about considering neither us did really like the appearance of the existing fire, and that replacing that on top the cost of everything else, when we still wouldn’t really use it, was just ridiculous.

So, I scoured Pinterest for a couple of hours (yes, solidly) and tried to envisage the style I like without the fireplace, and how we’d have artwork to create a focal point, and shelves on another wall to replace the ones lost by not having built in space either side of the chimney breast. I’m more than halfway to getting my head around it and coming up with fresh ideas.

It’s been a bit of a journey, and a near-missed argument, to get there, though. I was just so clear in my mind of what I wanted, it was totally irrespective of what we actually needed and used, and ultimately, the most homely home feel will come from a lounge area that actually suits our life. And, now I’m feeling less stubborn, I’m starting to put together a coherent image of a largely similar room to what I first imagined that doesn’t stray into that urban city image that isn’t my personal preference.

We’ll get there in the end!

When we do, and hopefully a little before then, I’ll update you with some pictures of our actual living room, but for now, here’s a couple of Pinterest links that are really helping me get an idea together for our own front room.

Click image for link to Pinterest and original website link.
Click image for link to Pinterest and original website link.
Click image for link to Pinterest and original website link.

For now, with love,

Ellen

Alessi Ku Mocha Cups & Saucers – Does Good Design Really Date?

IMAG1676Hi,

I’ve had my Nescafe Dolce Gusto Genio machine for quite some time now, and enjoy a variety of the coffee pods available. However, I felt I’d never properly enjoyed an espresso from the machine because I didn’t have espresso cups.

I thought about buying a couple once or twice in Ikea, however, didn’t really like the designs available and ended up empty handed. Luckily, I found these lovely Alessi ones in TK Maxx.

IMAG1660Alessi is an Italian housewares brand, and their products can cost a pretty penny, so I’m happy to have a nice set of these cups. In all honesty, I liked the shape. I hadn’t seen espresso cups with the curved lip before, and I have to say they are very nice to drink from.

IMAG1677This particular style is the KU Mocha Cups & Saucers, designed by Toyo Ito and even have a design date of 2006 on the box. They’re a decade old! As they’re an older style from the brand, I can kind of ignore the RRP price – I mean, the first thing I did was google them and you can get them on Amazon now for £6.99. But it does sometimes mean a better quality product and these were an even bigger bargain at just £3.99 in TK Maxx for a box of two. Besides, until last week I didn’t even own any, why would I care if they’re a past style?

IMAG1678I tend to find I buy what I like. Although I’m interested in home design (obviously) I’m not necessarily all about keeping up with trends in décor or the next big thing. I can’t say that I’m not influenced by changing trends – after all, it usually dictates what’s available in stores and I know that I do take inspiration from store displays and online shops. But I stick to what I like, and I’m not adverse to buying older items, secondhand or new, to complete a look I have in my mind. If I like it, and it fits my budget, it comes home with me!

IMAG1682And that’s why I’m drinking my afternoon coffee out of a teensy tiny pretty little cup that’s perfectly designed and just what I was after.

IMAG1681So for now, with love,

Ellen

Top Picks under £10: February

Hi,

It’s already February (where is this year going?!) so it’s time for another Top Picks under £10. With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, love is the air, and it only seems right to have a floral and lace themed batch of bargains for this month.

So my favourite items I’ve scouted out, available online and/or in store are below. I’ve gone for girly, but rather than the typical pink and red, I’ve opted for magenta and white. I happen to love shades of fuchsia and magenta, white is a classic, and as we’re not out of Winter yet, I think it’s more appropriate than those pastel hues they keep taunting us with in early Easter displays.

My absolute favourite is that beautiful wallpaper in the centre (number 5). Although I don’t want to stray from my chosen blue and white colour scheme for our house, I’m so drawn to this! It’s beautiful, and such a statement. I’m a sucker for pretty things sometimes! I also think it would be a fabulous paper to decoupage with – it’s a fresher take on vintage florals and would make a beautiful, modern shabby chic dresser or similar, with the addition of white chalk paint. Although personally, I think I’d like it best simply on a wall or two. Throw into the mix some plainer pinks and purples, and clean white lace and textures and you’d have a superbly put-together look.

February 2016 Top Picks
1. Magenta Chenille Cushion – BHS – Was £16.00, Now £8.00

2. White Love Birds Decoration – Primark – £1.00

3. Single Stem Orchid in Magenta – Wilko – £1.00

4. Betty Lace Pendant – Dunelm Mill – £9.99

5. Charmed White Multi Wallpaper – Wilko – £10.00

6. Glass Oval Arrangement Vase – George Home – £8.00

7. Hydrangea and Allium Vase – George Home – £8.00

8. Skurar Plant Pot – Ikea – from £2.00

9. Printed Tin Heart Hanging Decoration – Mataln – £3.00

(All items available and prices correct at time of publishing)

Of course, there’ll be another Top Picks under £10 in March, and plenty more between now and then. If you like my best finds under £10, check out last months here, and if you have any suggestions for future months, or anything else you’d like to see on here, just let me know.

For now, with love,
Ellen

Ikea Brusali Furniture

brusali-wardrobe-with-doors-white__0283057_PE362781_S4Hi,

As I’ve said before, what feels like a million times, we moved house a couple of months back and in terms of decorating,, we were supposed to be focussing on the living room first. We sort of are.

And then we bought six new pieces of bedroom furniture.

My dear Fiance had had about his fill of me moaning in the mornings that I didn’t have a vanity table and struggled to get ready while balancing a mirror on my knees to do my makeup. I don’t blame him, I can moan a lot. He decided I definitely needed some kind of dressing table, and I thought I’d settled on the Ikea Malm one. I really liked the wide drawer and the glass top. But it’s pretty huge in terms of the width.

We checked it out one Ikea trip, and I couldn’t really figure out how I could fit it into our bedroom with all the other furniture we need. And there was the issue of our wardrobes.

They’d already moved a couple of times with us, and were originally flat pack furniture, and they’d pretty much just been used to death. I’m not complaining – we’d had plenty of use out of them. But now they were wobbly from top to bottom and beyond repairing. So I started to look at wardrobes instead of vanity tables and struggled to find something to match with our existing mismatched furniture. Flat pack seemed the way to go, from a price-point perspective. And then I found the Brusali range at Ikea.
brusali-wardrobe-with-doors-white__0247231_PE386049_S4 I loved the three-door wardrobe. And although they didn’t do a dressing table, they had a desk, which could definitely work as a vanity. And there were matching bedside tables, 4-drawer chests, 3-drawer chests, a tall, slim 4-drawer chest. A shoe cupboard, that I loved, but couldn’t make room for. And even better, I found most of it on eBay.
brusali-chest-of-drawers-white__0380449_PH123703_S4We first purchased three items together: The 4-drawers chest of drawers, and the skinny tall chest of drawers, plus one bedside table. They are in mint condition, barely used and properly put together. You wouldn’t know they weren’t new. And we saved a good chunk of cash on the RRP.

IMAG1627 Then I found the wardrobe – which in all fairness has one or two minor faults, but you can’t see them now it’s been rebuilt and is in situ. There was another error with this one as when we went to collect it, the seller provided us with the wrong rail, but as ever dear Fiance fixed it up and now you’d never know! So, this one wasn’t perfect, and it was a long way to collect, but it was only a third of the cost of a brand new one, so all in all we can’t argue.

IMAG1636We did purchases the desk/dressing table new from Ikea, and the same day bought and collected a second bedside table (again, mint and unused) from a lovely eBay seller just five minutes up the road. So for around £250, we have a full set of furniture that retails for £420. My other half was concerned that so much matching white furniture would make the bed stand out too much, as it’s a warm, pine coloured solid wood frame, however because I love our bed so much, I don’t mind that it doesn’t match. I think sometimes, when you spend a long time finding the perfect item, it doesn’t matter if the colours or styles don’t match perfectly to everything else – when you like it, you’ll think it looks great together anyway.

The only other addition was the large, Stave mirror. A bargain at just £15 for a huge 70cm square mirror with white frame. You’ll see in my photo it’s still in the packaging. I wanted to be sure I liked it and that it would work over the desk (and that I would be happy with the desk sitting in that corner as it does) and I am, so we’ll fix the mirror to the wall soon.

IMAG1633I’m using a folding chair that we already had with the desk. I might swap it out for a stool or different chair at some point, but for now, I’m not too bothered about that aspect and the chair works just fine.

IMAG1630Lastly, I did also purchase the Sålnan Seagrass baskets in both sizes, the deep rectangular and the smaller shallow square ones as they work perfectly with the shelves of the desk and are ideal for keeping my makeup and beauty products in.

I’m really pleased with how the room is coming together. Yes, it does need the wallpaper stripping and everything needs repainting and new carpets but we’ll get there. We’ve definitely made the room more functional, and I think with the white furniture over natural wood, more relaxing too.

I will get a picture of the whole room up once I’m happy with it, and same goes for the downstairs of the house too, but we’ve a long way to go there.

By the way – did you spot the cat in the box?! That’s Toots, and he’s been loving that little cardboard box so much I don’t have the heart to get rid of it now, or even move it for the photgraphs. So cute!

For now, with love,

Ellen